Peter Sellars: We were on an unsustainable path

Peter Sellars: We were on an unsustainable path


norman lebrecht

April 13, 2020

The snappy, chatty opera director has been shooting some unsafe thoughts at Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times.

Among others:

‘My feeling is truly we are in the midst of a new era trying to be reborn.’

‘Finally, the conversation is not being dominated by money, but by something else. Money is not what we’re talking about at the moment. Mostly if we hear anything in the public sphere, it’s because somebody paid for you to hear it. So almost everything in the public sphere for these last years, whether considered propaganda or public-spirited, is actually the sound of money.’

The critical question: ‘how do we replant democratic roots in a democratic society which has gone a long way from democracy because it’s been for sale for so long?’

Read on here.



  • Tony Britten says:

    As always with Sellars, really worth a read. For every eccentricity there is a profound sense of artistic purpose, which is what we are all going to need to aspire to from now on.

  • D. says:

    I don’t know what planet he’s living on, but has he looked at the unemployment rates right now? Most people are thinking solely about money, because they have none, and none coming in. And millions have lost their jobs, possibly never to find another.
    Rich people are telling us life will take 18 months to get back to normal…..and we are not thinking about money? This guy is a first class ignorant fool.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s all in the hair. When someone desperately tries to look like some comic strip figure, it is quite difficult to take such person seriously.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Sadly, like so many of the Left he has zero idea about stuff outside his own orbit. Zany, dystopian fantasies don’t work. Booga booga; those dreadful capitalists!! (You know, the same people who can afford to attend opera!!)

    • Tamino says:

      I get Sellar‘s message, but it is spoken from a bubble, disconnected from harsh realities of the 50% of the bottom of society.
      They all have a vote too, and the US has their political 1932/33 after a world economic crisis still to come I‘m (very) afraid.

      If things don‘t get better again very soon, we must wonder if there will be even presidential elections in the US in the foreseeable future…

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Huh? How bizarre. Of course the US will have presidential elections again. Unless you think Trump will overthrow democracy?

      • Sara E. says:

        « Presidential » « elections » in the us empire….more like More theatre. It was a bad joke. Another Anglo Saxon charade. A participatory fascist govt masquerading as a « democracy ». The us was an Genocidal war machine governed by a plutocracy And cheered on by the buffoon populace.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The full lockdown will not last 18 months. It will be a few months at most. However, it will be relaxed in stages. Europe will leave the lockdown before the US. Concerts and other public events will take longer than some other things to recover.

  • Peter Sellout says:

    It’s easy to say all of this when you have made a fortune from those you attack on a daily basis. He is one of the most hypocritical artistic sellouts masquerading as a latter day saint. Phony.

  • Tony Britten says:

    Oh dear, D. and Peter Sellout, two questions: why do you hide behind pseudonyms and did you actually read the Sellars article properly?

    • Peter Sellout says:

      You want to know why we use pseudonyms? Because writing our actual names will lead to be banished from the industry. This industry claims to be all for freedom of speech until there’s a dissenting voice. The mainstream classical music media has everything to do with kowtowing to the elite point of views of very few “great” artists to whom they bow their heads. Thankfully, slippedisc is one of the only places one can give an opinion in a comment section. However, dare you give your name and your career is done with! I hope that helps, Tony.

    • Ron Swanson says:

      Why do think people shouldn’t criticise millionaire mansion marxists who got rich on taxpayers subsidies and corporate sponsorship? If you are fat cat don’t complain about everything being about money.

  • Stuart says:

    Viewing the current world situation through a very ill-informed narrow lens. He is nothing but consistent in his views. COVID-19 – the making of the next John Adams opera with libretto and staging by Peter Sellars.

  • anon says:

    In addition to voting a thumbs down to Sellars, I would like to cast a ballot against the journalists of this world who have spent an inordinate amount of time during this pandemic chronicling the magical thinking of the Sellars of the world, profiling sacrifices of such as those of Mutti whose post-pandemic pay cut is still in the millions and following elite artists who are using their pandemic-forced career breaks to work on repertoire for next season.

    Perhaps more emphasis on those in the trenches who are looking into mortgage and credit card deferrals, negotiating interest rate cuts and attempting to obtain unemployment from gig wages would be more apt.

  • Alviano says:

    Sophistic clap-trap but worth the glop he puts on his hair. And what does he know about art? He’s never made it.

  • David McKellar says:

    What sort of silliness is Sellars peddling? The notion that we are all going to wake up magically in a post pandemic world in which money will be unimportant is shear nonsense and unworthy of even the slightest consideration!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Listen, Wilson; we’ll take our advice from the experts.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I have to agree with his first statement.

  • Paul Wells says:

    One thing I miss about live music performances is the audiences, which are quite literally never as bitter and hateful as most of the people whose comments I encounter here.

    • Zeno North says:

      I concur wholeheartedly. The amount of rancour spilled in the comments section on this website rivals that found on political websites.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      People go to performances to listen to performances, which they may like or not. They are less interested in mega rich musicians telling us about the the evils of materialism. The great majority don’t but Sillars has always revelled in the adulation of woke sycophants.

  • BrianB says:

    Quote: : ‘how do we replant democratic roots in a democratic society which has gone a long way from democracy because it’s been for sale for so long?’

    Way too many mentions of “democratic.” Reminds me that all countries with the word “Democratic” in their official name are on average exceptionally undemocratic. The most totalitarian countries lays have democratic sounding names.
    I’m not sure what Sellars really means but my suspicion is it isn’t liberty and freedom.

  • Dennis says:

    Blather about “democratic” this or that won’t get us anywhere, Pete. Talk about missing the point and misconstruing the problem entirely.

  • Max Raimi says:

    I have seen two of his creations live, a execrable “Tannhauser” at the Chicago Lyric Opera in the late 1980s and a “Merchant of Venice” at Chicago’s Goodman Theater a year or two later that might, if it is possible, have been even worse. I would be hard put to think of anybody whose deep musings could be of less interest to me…OK, maybe Yoko Ono.

  • Sara E. says:

    The us was an intellectually, spiritually and ontologically Empty empire of hustlers, hucksters, and was war mongoring g imperialists. Why America Failed by Morris Berman.

  • Edward says:

    Not only is this man a dipshite, he is an amazing salesman He has LA underwriting his lifestyle. A real Max Bialystock!